STEPPING out of the taxi, the first thing that hits me – other than the view of Ox Pasture Hall’s charming façade and the seemingly endless rolling hills beyond is the fresh country aroma.
My lungs lap up the unpolluted air, tinged with the scent of dewy grass, lavender and farmyard animals.
It’s hard to believe that, just three short hours ago, I was at King’s Cross station, waiting to board a train north.
Nestled into the folds of the North York Moors National Park, Ox Pasture Hall is just a five-minute drive away from the coastal town of Scarborough, where families descend year on year for the seaside donkey rides and historical sights.
Formerly a country farmhouse, the four-star hotel offers the latest in boutique luxury, sitting among 17 acres of manicured gardens and grounds.
It’s an optimal location for weddings or romantic breaks, with some rooms overlooking the Tuscan-inspired wisteria-clad courtyard, complete with water fountain and string of bulbs to provide night-time atmosphere.
Our suite, although in a newer wing of the hotel, doesn’t scrimp on the rustic factor.
Chunky wooden furniture is found in all corners of the bedroom and separate lounge area, mixed in with modern touches such as two large flat-screen TVs, a CD player and sweeping curtains that frame the view of the thatched veranda through the window.
The real USP of the room, however, is the marbled bathroom, with his and hers sinks, monsoon shower and a large bath to fit even the tallest of people.
Outside, a paved walkway leads guests round the property’s gardens, with stone benches dotted around to allow feet to rest while eyes lap up the view of open fields and ponds.
Four-legged friends are welcome to join guests, too, and can make use of the surrounding countryside for long, rural walks.
But people don’t just travel to Ox Pasture Hall for its boutique accommodation and magnificent location.
Its courtyard restaurant has built up an enviable fine dining reputation and is the only one in Scarborough to have been awarded two rosettes for culinary excellence. With a bistro and a la carte menu, we felt spoilt for choice, opting in the end for the soup of the day (potato and leek) followed by an ox burger and mushroom tartlet.
Each dish came out so exquisitely prepared that you almost feel a tang of guilt for tucking into their creations.
The only thing that may irk some visitors is the apparently technological black spot of the hotel, with its intermittent WiFi and phone signal. But, frankly, this just heightened the rural experience for us. We had no choice but to switch off, sit back and indulge in the friendly Yorkshire hospitality of this peaceful countryside retreat.